tv [untitled] May 18, 2012 12:00pm-12:30pm EDT
were. it's still necessary to get this economy going again that we pass a robust long-term surface transportation bill. >> let's talk a bill about the keystone pipeline provision. here's the hill from this morning. gop hints it will part with keystone xl pipeline to finish the highway bill. can you tell us a bit about the debate over the pipeline and your own position on it? >> well, first, i am a supporter of the keystone project and i have voted that way when it's been before the house of representatives. it was put in the underlying bill by the republican majority in the house of representatives. it is not in the senate bill. it will be an item in conference committee but it is truly a non-starter. the senators have made their position very clear both by vote on the senate floor that they do not have the necessary votes to pass the keystone project in that body. the administration has made very clear their position because they have threatened, out right
said they will veto the transportation bill if the keystone project is on there. so it's become a political football, susan, and it should not be on a transportation bill. therefore, today, we'll be voting on a motion to instruct them on the keystone pipeline. i will be voting against that motion because i don't think this project should stand in the way of passing a transportation bill. and i would say that majority are still that way, whether they've said it or not. i believe that transportation is too important a project and it's jobs right now, not down road, that we out to get along and go ahead and do the transportation bill, set the keystone project aside for another day's debate. >> mr. ra harkshall is the lead democrat on the committee that is responsible for this discussion. it's called the surface -- transportation and infrastructure committee. i'm going to listen to his republican chairman john micah.
this is from last tuesday's meeting and he's going to describe what he thinks is important in this in negotiation over to highway bill. >> let's not just spend more money or throw money at problems. let's have some serious reforms that get people working, get projects moving across this country. and let me set some markers out here. we're going to have to pay for this and pay for it responsibly. we're not going to raise taxes. anyone who wants to raise taxes, you're on the wrong conference committee. i think we must not include earmarks. we did the faa bill without that. and we can't add to the federal bureaucracy. we've got to cut red tape paperwork and start streamlining the process that actually get things done. >> first we should note at very large conference committee. >> 47 members. >> how can you get work done with so many people? >> the chair of the conference is senator boxer.
and she has done excellent job so far breaking it down into various groups, addressing various issues of which the members are interested. the staffs are working across party aisles and across the hill in a very good manner, breaking it down as well. perhaps a lot of the low-hanging fruit will be resolved at the staff level and the major issues, one of which you have addressed, will be left for the conferees themselves to address. i hope it will be instead of kicked upstairs on the leadership like happened to the faa bill last summer as many may recall. so it's a large conference committee. it's typical of conference committees. as i said a minute ago it is a good thing we are meeting. it's a good thing we had the conference committee. that's what the process is all about. the conference committees have been rare under this republican pro house of representatives. we ought to be glad we're in conference and talking with one another. >> did chairman micah say anything you disagreed with?
>> i'm not sure that he did. he talked for serious reforms. i certainly agree. too many projects have taken too long to get through the bureaucratic red tape. the senate bill that i advocate we accept, bipartisan bill that passed the other body by over 70 votes have serious reforms in it. for example, it would prevent the one step after another review of projects and allow the con current review of projects to go through their approval proes the within the bureaucracy. that's a good thing. that would cut out time involved in approval of many of these projects. i think it's important to note the senate bill has a lot of this. it's paid for. chairman micah mentioned that in his remarks that you just ran. everything that he just said is in the senate bipartisan bill. we know how difficult it is these days to get the necessary 60 votes to do anything in the other body and yet here on this transportation bill, the senate was able to gather over 70 votes, 74 voetstes, i believe i
was, half of them voted for this transportation bill. now, that should tell you that there's something here upon which both sides of the aisle agree upon. while the -- why the majority of the house of the representatives just won't accept this other body's bill is beyond me other than it's a political season and there are political points to be made. >> one more quote and then we'll get to the calls. in a piece called qutd the awful truth about the highway bills," mark on openmarket.org, specifically talks about the senate bill. let me lead you what he says. the senate passed what he calls the obnoxiously titled moving ahead for pro dwresz on march 14th in 74-22 vote, while passed in a by sart son fashion soon became clear in senate republicans who voted for it had no clue what was in the bill and how it would be paid for. transportation analyst who previously served in the public works committee ranking member has done work in his analysis of
the funding provisions. despite the bipartisan rhetoric enabled by senator who admits he's a fiscal conservative on everything other than inf infrastructure and national defense, he shines a much needed light on the jaw-dropping fiscal gimmickry contained. instead of fixing the out lay imbalance that is driving the trust fund into insolvency the two-year, 1 of-- oh $109 billio once used cannot be relied upon again. this is merely reallocating spending to the highway trust fund, map 21 kafters were soup to find budget mutual offset evers. they failed using every last ditch funding trick available. they cannot be used again. >> well, you know, let's be honest with ourselves, susan. we all know the major problem here is how to fund our transportation network in this country, how to fund our
infrastructure. the highway trust fund is going broke. this time next year projections show it will be broke once again. that's because there's less gas tax revenues coming into that highway trust fund. using more fuel-efficient cars as everybody is preach that we must do. we're driving less due to the high price of gas so, therefore, revenues coming into the highway trust fund are going down. we're using more transit which is a good thing. but, therefore, highway revenues are going down. and what the writer that you referred to called fiscal gimmickry in the senate-passed bill may or may not be true. very various slight of hands, i guess you might say that the senate has used to pay nor this bill but they never the less have paid for this bill and it is a bridge, if you will, to get us into a time frame passed the november election in which we can sit down in good faith and with serious discussions try to step up to the plate and address these long-term funding
problems. so this is something that is necessary now due to the jobs that are at stake that i referenced earlier that we have to get done. it is paid for, however you -- whatever you want to call it. fiscal g fiscal gimmickry, does, nevertheless, bay for the bill until we can sit down and address a long-term robust transportation bill necessary to get our economy going in this country, necessary to put americans at work, and necessary to show the american people that we have the courage to step up to the plate and agree to something in a bipartisan fashion. >> thanks for waiting. chris, new haven, connecticut, democrat. you're on the line with congressman rahall. >> caller: good morning, susan. good morning, representative rahall. i've got to admit that we've got a problem. in connecticut our bridges are crumbling. back in the day there was a bridge that completely fell down and then there was that bridge out in st. paul that fell down.
we can't afford to let this happen. and our roads are not being handled. connecticut, every day this week there's been a major traffic hold-up because some truck is turned over or some other accident just happened. we've got to work on getting this and, once more, our businesses depend on it which means that our businesses have got to come up with more money. you just can't depend on consumers -- not consumers -- the people who are just using it to get to work. we need it for businesses. >> chris, thank you. a response from the congressman to your concerns. >> the caller makes an excellent point. this nation does have a crumbling infrastructure problem. when we compare our spending as a percentage of gross domestic product versus other countries, china, india, we're literally being left in the dust and that's not proper for a super
power as united states of america. we need to make those decisions that are necessary. congestion, for example, in our major cities, it causes road rage. it causes worker discontent. and when one arrives at work they're so discouraged for having fought congestion that worker morale is down. it affects all of us. it affects our productivity as the economic super power we should be. the gentleman is right about the deficient bridges that exist around the country. he referenced one in his home state of connecticut. i can reference the civil bridge disaster in my home state of west virginia. there are so many bridges that are disasters waiting to happen. we need to put americans to work by repairing these bridges. we can do it ourselves. one other provision i think is important in regard to bridges, we know that the largest infrastructure project in the state of california's history
right now is using some 46,000 pounds of imported steel that have stamped on it made in china. that's simply unconscionable. we should be using american made products, by our american provisions will be voted on today in the house as well as a a. motion to instruct conferees to accept stronger buy american provisions so we are not segm t segmenting he's projects in allowing foreign producers like china to make the steel and pulling some 3,000 chinese workers instead of american workers. we have the workforce in this country that's capable, that's ready, that's qualified, that is much more experienced at producing a safer product than firms that are building this san francisco bay bridge that are in the arena for the first time. you know, that's something that we should not be doing in this country. especially when american tax dollars are going to pay unemployment benefits for laid off american workers that are
laid off because we're paying to put chinese workers to work. unconscionable. >> you saw the headline about rahall offer to buy america motion. next call is from west virginia. robert, independent there. go ahead, robert. good morning. robert, are you there? >> caller: good morning. this is robert from west virginia. mr. rahall, where is the money coming from to pay for all this infrastructure? you say it's paid for. and, also, talking about san francisco bay area bridge, they saved over $2 billion by having china steel. and if you used american product which we need to do, i understand this, we need to use american product but it adds thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars to the cost of everything we do. >> very good question, robert. and i appreciate that. i know your area very well in greenbrier county. let me address the first question. when i said it's paid for, the
senate two-year bill that $109 billion i referenced earlier is, in my opinion, not long-term enough. but it is paid for by various mechanisms in the senate finance committee has found to come up with the money to pay for that. outside of the highway trust fund. normally this infrastructure, to address another point in your question, is paid for by gas tax revenues, that you and i and all of us pay at the gas pump every time we go pump a gallon of gas, there's about 18 cents that goes to the federal government. the highway trust fund. that trust fund was set up to be used as a user fee finance mechanism to pay for inf infrastructure. not for deficit reduction. totally separate from general revenues from the treasurer where your tax dollars go to. this highway trust fund has been declining in balances because, as i referenced earlier, we're not driving as much. we're driving more fuel-efficient cars. we're buying less gasoline than
we used to. and, therefore, less revenue into that highway trust fund. that's why we're in the problem of paying for trainfrastructure right now. the bridges, i believe you mentioned a bridge in west virginia. certainly we have a number of them. they're listed by our state department of transportation that is deemed insufficient, that need to be addressed. fortunately they're not unsafe. they're just deficient at the current time and need attention and will need more attention as time goes on to prevent, as i said earlier, any future disasters from happening. >> for mr. rahall, next caller is jim watching us in franklin, pennsylvania. republican there. thank you. >> caller: good morning, mr. rahall. >> good morning. >> caller: i have two points. first, the xl pipeline is not paid for by taxpayer dollars will create a number of jobs.
>> true. >> caller: second, we're going to cross the allegheny river. in order to do that they're going to have divers go in. they marked every plan in the area where the bridge is going to be built, move them down the river and then return them to the exact spot when the bridge is done. is that responsible use of the taxpayers' money?
it's just turned into a political football, unfortunately, in the congress. and it should not be allowed to stop the transportation bill which is going to put many more workers to work and many more states across the united states in the keystone project would. but, yes, the keystone project does mean jobs. as i said in the beginning i support the keystone project. >> just to explain, you said it's a private company. is that because of the trans border crossing? >> yes, that's correct. that's correct. >> mike freeman likes your buy america provision. he tweets, massive infrastructure rebuild, equipment manpower, and materials all from the usa. and you spell multiplier effect? we're talking with mr. rahall. next call from him is from albertville, alabama. bobby is a democrat. good morningmorning. you're on, bobby. >> caller: good morning. on the bay bridge, that was the thing that tifs going to ask
about how in the world could anything like that happen. the caller before back two or three calls was talking about how much money was saved. well, you pay unemployment for the people that would build a bridge. you also pay unemployment to the people that would build the steel. so anything that the taxpayers pay for should be made with american labor and american products. and, susan, one thing i wish you would do. we keep hearing on this keystone pipeline about, oh, we're going to get fuel out of it and all that stuff. on the end of hearings, which i listened to part of them, and the question was asked on -- about the oil when it's refined, will it stay here.
>> huh sgluf auh-huh. >> caller: and answer was, no, we have already signed a contract with exxonmobil. >> sorry. sir, i actually hit the button. in fact, he was going to say that it would go into the global marketplace. >> that's true. >> the oil will go to the global market marketplace. >> we hear our opponent scream so loud about this. we all want to reduce our dependence upon foreign oil. we all want to use an all of the above strategy as long as it's domestically usa emergency. that is my position. that would include coal, i might add, as well. that is important in my home state of virginia. the oil, as i understand it, from the keystone project has already been designated to export. it's hard to imagine how it would reduce our dependence domestically on foreign oil. none the less, it is important as a means of providing jobs for our people. it is a means of providing
another possible future vehicle or transportation network by which we may be able to use in the future, energy for our own domestic use. but right now, all of their ports do show this product would go to the export market from the keystone project. >> and on twitter, big guns tweets to us, billion dollar bailouts going overseas. why are we worried about the cost? we will just print it and ignore it. next is a call from lafayette, louisiana. dan, independent. good morning. >> caller: yes, good morning. i've been sitting here listening to this conversation. it seems like, and i am an independent. i am an independent because i've seen democratic party bailing the republican party, corporate america, the wealthy. the democratic party is is bailing. we had the stopping any progress from changing. and now on to the subject matter we're talking about this transportation bill and this keystone pipeline.
this is -- this pipeline is an environmental nightmare, potential nightmare. and we're not benefiting one iota and as far as the people that are employed, you can employ as many people building a bridge than you would build that pipeline. and it's a danger to the united states and should be -- if that thing is built, not one government in this country and the pipeline company is responsible for any and every accident that we of cures. and if it includes poison, in the midwest, they should be driven into bankruptcy. that should be in here, that they pay absolutely everything. and it's a red herring. i wish these people would get together and democratic party would be a democratic party and fight this. get rid of these blue dogs and get this country straightened out because the other party's interest is only in the rich men and corporate interest and convince all of their voters
through fox news to think the same way. that's what's destroying this country. >> it's my understanding that the routing in the keystone project has been modified to address many environmental concerns. that's why, as i understand the republican governor of nebraska has switched from antito a proposition in this. that's why trans canada in the week or two refile with their application which was a necessary step no getting the project moving again with the proper agencies. the proper agencies, i'm sure, are looking very seriously at the environmental concerns that the caller legitimately raised and the liability issues the caller legitimately raised. i'm sure that these issues will be paramount at the top of the agenda before the abced give final signoff to the keystone project. and you're right, it's being used as a red herring. i said earlier it's become a political football. unfortunately the transportation
bill is a vehicle upon which necessary games are willing played at the current time. while i am a supporter of the keystone project i will vote today not to instruct conferees to accept that project. knowing that it is such a flash point and feeling as stronglys ado that the transportation bill itself is stronger in the way of jobs that it provides and there is a greater urgency to provide for that transportation network immediately, right now, to put our workers back to work. then the keystone project, which is further down the road, and is not as job creating the numbers as a transportation bill is for the american workers. >> lots of comments about spending and jobs. american hero on twitter takes issue with the multiplier effect comment. says the so-called multiplier is less than one. think about that. there is no multiplier effect. it's really what fraction of the spending is lost. steve in illinois asked, how
many permanent jobs would be created by the keystone project? it seems most jobs would be temporary. >> i cannot answer the question. i do not know the permanent number of jobs created. certainly in the transportation bill as opposed to the keystone project, the jobs that are created are more than just temporary. we all know the phrase, if you build it, they'll come. and i certainly believe in that. you build a transportation network, businesses will come. jobs will flow. good long-term paying jobs, family wage jobs. and when you produce jobs in this country, that means tax revenues for our treasurer. so job creation is a deficit reduction move at the same time. it may be in the longer term but certainly we need these long-term jobs that a transportation bill would provide. >> 7:00 until we end our program on this friday morning. edwards, stewart u.s. air force,
retired, asks, where are the shovel ready jobs that the stimulus was to produce even as our infrastructure -- in our inf infrastructure, including transportation? >> the stimulus bill, as good as it was and a supporter of that legislation that i had been because there had been many projects including in my home state of west virginia that benefited from stimulus funding that otherwise would not have been built and we would have lost even more jobs than what we lost in the years past if it had not been for this stimulus. i regretted that there was not more spending on infrastructure in that stimulus bill. a lot of it went for tax reduction, middle class tax cuts were included in that stimulus bill. there were some $2 billion in there for clean coal technology, which is a good thing. very good thing. unfor tlatly there was not more for that. but never the less, infrastructure was not the major focus as it should have been of
that stimulus bill. the projects were pretty well scrubbed and scrutinized. there may have been one or two that were not, that squeaked through. but for the most part under the direction of vice president biden, these projects were projects that put american workers to work or prevented the loss of american jobs. and i think that latter point should be stressed very heavily because many projects relied upon the stimulus money to continue what was already in progre progress. >> here's one more. this is an e-mail from carl in san antonio on jobs creation by highway spending. he says, mr. rahall, i know you want to get highways back to the condition they were when they were new but i would like your comments on what i believe about this, which is it's the worse case in getting people to work per dollars spent. there is much more money spent for equipment, metal, and concrete than there is spent on the labor involved on highway projects. >> well, that goes to the contracting process and the way
contracts are bid and then let and then perhaps there may be room for reform that whole process just as there is room for reform in the approval process through the bureaucracy. we all want to see a more efficient bang for the buck of u.s. taxpayer dollars. rather, it's general revenues or user fee as highway trust fund is and that's the money we're talking about in transportation network, as that user fee paid system, the highway trust fund. and it would help us to root out and if there are such cases of abuse and fraud, that may be let upon the use of tax dollars, we want to route that out and make the necessary reforms to provide for more sufficient use. but once again, i think investments in our inf infrastructure in this country
are true investments in our future, in our children, in our grandchildren. and we want to ensure that we have a safe and efficient system of transportation in this country, we want to be able to move our goods and people from small rural areas such as i represent for the major markets of this country and to the major markets of the world. because we are in a global competition. not one county versus the next county or one state versus the neighboring state even. but we are the united states of america, and unfortunately we're in severe competition with other countries. >> while we're talking about jobs, let's take a look at how west virginia is doing unemploymentwise versus the nation. a little better than everyone else nationally. unemployment rate nationally as we know, 8.1% on the later numbers. west virginia and march statistics, 6.9%. very quickly because i have callers waiting. what's the reason you're doing well? >> well, our coal industry and our coal miners in west virginia.
god bless them. god bless our coal miners. coal has been the mainstay of our economy. it keeps our lights on literally. it's the largest generator of revenues to our state coffers and will be for the foreseeable future. coal is reliant, cheap, domestic source of energy upon which this country over 50% of the electrical generation. and that's the mainstay of our economy in west virginia. it's helped us weather the recession. while there may be a slacking in demand for coal right now, both internationally and domestically due to the warm winter to which we just went. but coal is going to be the mainstay of our economy and it helps our unemployment numbers, which as you referenced, susan, is below the national average right now. >> john, republican, good morning, sir. >> caller: good morning. thank you for taking my call. congressman, very simple. i like everything that you are